The Biden administration has taken the first step toward ending an emergency exception that allowed hospitals to ration and reuse N95 medical masks, the first line of defense between frontline workers and the deadly coronavirus.
Thousands of medical providers have died in the COVID-19 pandemic, many exposed and infected while caring for patients without adequate protection.
Critical shortages of masks, gowns, swabs, and other medical supplies prompted the Trump administration to issue guidelines for providers to ration, clean, and reuse disposable equipment. Thus, throughout the pandemic, once a week many doctors and nurses were issued an N95 mask, which is normally designed to be tossed after each patient.
Now U.S. manufacturers say they have vast surpluses for sale, and hospitals say they have three to 12 month stockpiles. Read more:
Here's an update on all developments. Scroll or swipe further for in-depth coverage.
- With the U.S. pause of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine stretched into a second week, authorities are weighing whether to resume the shots the way European regulators decided to — with warnings of a “very rare” risk. New guidance is expected late Friday after a government advisory panel deliberates a possible link between J&J’s shot and a small number of vaccine recipients who developed highly unusual blood clots.
- As the supply of coronavirus vaccine doses in the U.S. outpaces demand, some places around the country are finding there's such little interest in the shots, they need to turn down shipments.
- India put oxygen tankers on special express trains as major hospitals in New Delhi begged on social media on Friday for more supplies to save COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe.
- The European Medicines Agency said Friday that people who have received a first dose of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine should also get the second one despite the rare risk of blood clots that have been linked to the shot.
- Only three months before the postponed Olympics are set to open, Tokyo and Japan's second largest metropolitan area of Osaka have been placed under emergency orders aimed at stemming surging cases of the coronavirus.
For more summaries and full reports, please select from the articles below. Scroll further for the latest virus numbers.